The Supreme Court on Friday justified rules framed by the Centre mandating websites to remove an objectionable post within 36 hours from networking sites after receiving a complaint and refused to stay it.

A bench of justices H.L. Gokhale and J. Chelameswar said a holistic view needs to be taken on it as the impact of any objectionable post on websites is huge and it can spread all over the country.

“In a huge country of 120 crores people, if something objectionable is published, then it has the consequences all over the country, particularly if it is related to political and religious issues. You have to remove it then. We have to take a holistic approach. You know how rumour spreads,” the bench said.

It turned down the plea of a website mouthshut.com, a user-generated content and consumer review website, which submitted Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules violates its freedom of speech and expression and asked for a stay on its operation.

“Prima facie we don’t find anything wrong with the rules,” the bench said and questioned the site on how its freedom of speech is violated. The bench said the website was set up for business purpose.

It referred to last year’s incident in which rumours on clashes in Myanmar had forced people from the Northeast to leave Bangalore in droves.

“You know how rumours were spread. Something happened in Myanmar and northeastern people in Bangalore had to leave the city. What is wrong with the rules? Serious things have happened because of such posts,” the bench said.

The rule said an intermediary, which is the entity whose resource has been used for accessing internet or putting content on internet, should act within “thirty six hours and where applicable, work with user or owner of such information to disable such information” after information on objectionable content has brought to notice.

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